How to list available shells for use by command-line?

  • (IFS=: && grep -rl tcsetpgrp $PATH | xargs grep -rl setrlimit) on a Debian system seems to give a good approximation. Jul 2, 2014 at 7:29
  • On Fedora 20 it returns /bin/bash /bin/crash /bin/gdb (and the symlinks from /usr/bin). Jul 2, 2014 at 15:18

4 Answers 4


To list available valid login shells for use at time, type following command:

cat /etc/shells


pandya@pandya-desktop:~$ cat /etc/shells
# /etc/shells: valid login shells

For information about shell visit wikipedia.

  • Note that this will not work for all systems. E.g. Solaris and HP-UX do not have an /etc/shells file by default.
    – Warwick
    Jul 2, 2014 at 5:25
  • Why do I have /bin/true and /bin/false in this list?
    – Bernhard
    Jul 2, 2014 at 5:33
  • 2
    @bernhard - There is a good explanation of /bin/true and /bin/false here link
    – Warwick
    Jul 2, 2014 at 5:47

You can also use chsh -l This will print the list of shells.

Example :-

[anurag@focused ~]$ chsh -l

On at least OpenBSD and NetBSD:

$ getent shells

On (Ubuntu) Linux and many other Unices (including BSDs):

$ grep '^[^#]' /etc/shells

On Solaris, the file /etc/shells may not exist. The list of valid shells is contained in the shells(4) manual. On my vanilla Solaris 11.3 system, this lists the following shells:

/bin/bash         /usr/bin/bash     /bin/pfbash   /usr/bin/pfbash
/bin/csh          /usr/bin/csh      /bin/pfcsh    /usr/bin/pfcsh
/bin/jsh          /usr/bin/jsh      /sbin/jsh     /usr/sbin/jsh
/bin/ksh          /usr/bin/ksh      /bin/pfksh    /usr/bin/pfksh
/bin/ksh93        /usr/bin/ksh93    /bin/pfksh93  /usr/bin/pfksh93
/bin/sh           /usr/bin/sh       /bin/pfsh     /usr/bin/pfsh
/bin/tcsh         /usr/bin/tcsh     /bin/pftcsh   /usr/bin/pftcsh
/sbin/sh          /usr/xpg4/bin/sh  /sbin/pfsh    /usr/xp4/bin/pfsh
/bin/zsh          /usr/bin/zsh      /bin/pfzsh    /usr/bin/pfzsh

It's worth noting that on my installation, neither /usr/sfw/bin/zsh nor /usr/xp4/bin/pfsh exists...

A shorter list of valid Solaris shells (duplicates of each shell removed):

/bin/bash       /bin/ksh        /bin/pfcsh      /bin/pfsh       /bin/sh
/bin/csh        /bin/ksh93      /bin/pfksh      /bin/pftcsh     /bin/tcsh
/bin/jsh        /bin/pfbash     /bin/pfksh93    /bin/pfzsh      /bin/zsh

If you want to dig into /etc/passwd, you could do:

cut -d ':' -f 7 /etc/passwd | sort -u

H/T @schrodigerscatcuriosity in https://unix.stackexchange.com/a/631346/40454

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